Memory Drawings

When one has acquired a fair amount of skill doing the types of work described above, let him try a few drawings of the same objects from memory, for the ability to draw from memory or the imagination is a great asset to the artist. When you have finished a drawing of an old shoe, for instance, done from the object itself, leave the shoe in the same position on the object stand but hide it from view, temporarily, with a cardboard or sheet of paper and lay the study just finished to one side. Then on a fresh piece of paper try to draw the object from memory. When the main lines have been blocked out, look at the shoe again and compare your drawing. Hide the shoe once more, correct your drawing and push it nearer to completion and again compare it with the object itself. Go on in this way until the drawing is completed. Then try some quick sketches of the shoe from memory, looking at it first until you get a fresh impression of it in your mind, next drawing swiftly and freely, working for only the larger proportions and individual characteristics. This sort of work is of the greatest value in training one to observe carefully and to retain that which is observed. It may not be out of place to say that the student who looks at an object for a long time, forming sort of a photograph of it in the brain, is usually better able to memorize the form than is the student who glances back and forth constantly from the object to the drawing as he works, forgetting the impression of each line once it is represented on paper. This is only a general rule, however, and has many exceptions as some students have the power to really observe and memorize more at a glance than do others in several minutes.

Outline Drawing Of Several Objects

The drawing of two or three objects instead of one is logically the next step. It involves few new principles, though the matter of arrangement or composition now needs our attention, for it is not always easy to choose and arrange several objects to form a satisfactory whole. The reader is referred to Chapter V (Free-Hand Perspective), Part II, which offers suggestions of assistance at this time. Study what is said there about unity and balance. In order to obtain unity it is essential that the objects chosen should be well related by use, - objects which we find associated for one reason or another. We have already mentioned that such things as are frequently found in the cellar or shed or attic often have more character than objects which are merely pretty. Objects that grow are often interesting, especially if the forms are irregular.

It is not enough, however, to have things of a kind or things associated by use unless they also offer variety of form and surface and texture (and if drawings are to be shaded, variety in light and dark). Little pleasure would be taken in a sketch showing several objects of equal roundness grouped together, or several others based on cubes of like size. Instead we look for dissimilar forms., We look for dissimilar edges, too, some that are soft, broken or indefinite and some that are sharp and clean-cut. An ink bottle with stationery and pen might be pleasingly arranged, or a hat and gloves and grip, or any of the many combinations to which we have referred at the end of Chapter IV (Object Drawing In Light And Shade). An enormously large object fails to harmonize in size with something much smaller unless they are arranged with the utmost care and even then such a composition is difficult, so too much difference in form or size is as bad as too little. Thought and care must be used, then, in both the selection and arrangement.

When two or three objects have been chosen place them on the stand and shift them about until they compose satisfactorily. A view-finder such as described on page 95 in Part II will be of use in this work. It is often advisable at this point to make a little trial marginal sketch to see how the arrangement will look on paper. Then try some different grouping of these same objects. If some object does not seem to fit, substitute another for it. Make a new marginal sketch. Go through this process two or three times and the best arrangement will be found. Figure 5 shows at "A," "B" and "C" several such sketches blocked out as a study of grouping. Considering the fact that still life objects are always shown in repose and bearing in mind that a triangle resting on its base always seems to express this feeling as much as any shape, many compositions of objects conform to a triangular proportion. Sketches "A" 3, Figure 5 and "1," Figure 4, are triangular in general mass and are, therefore, restful. When a triangle is placed on its apex, however, or any of its vertices, the opposite is true. The two sketches of the little toy rabbit in Figure 4 are shown to illustrate this point. At "A" the toy seems stationary; at "B" it seems to be running off the paper, showing action rather than repose, and the latter effect is obtained mainly by the position of the triangular mass. Sketch 2, Figure 4 shows a square composition; Sketch 3 one which is circular. Rectangular compositions frequently seem restful; when using circular or oval masses care must be taken that the objects do not seem inclined to roll out of the picture. The more nearly horizontal the base is, the better, for if it is too round in form the objects give an impression of instability, seeming to have a desire to rock back and forth or fall over. Both the irregular mass at "A" and the circular mass at "B," Sketch 4, Figure 4, have an unstable appearance, the first seeming to rest on too sharp a point at the base. As a further illustration of the principle that objects seem more satisfactory if resting firmly on some support we call attention to the feeling of incompleteness and restlessness that one notices in objects which show no portion of their bases. The vase in Sketch 6 for instance, disappearing behind the book, gives us a sense of something lacking. Another point worth considering is that objects should not be placed so far below the eye that they seem to tip up, as this always seems disturbing.